Wednesday, 30 April 2014


I took a break, from the story about a fireman I was writing, to look up a word for this post. Appropriately enough, strapping caught my attention. When referring to a person it means big and strong. Now I know firefighters come in various shapes and sizes as well as both sexes and are no less effective for that, but somehow when I see the trucks go by I imagine all the crew to be big strapping lads.

Strapping is also the action of using straps to fasten or secure something so it can't get away. If I imagined that sort of strapping in connection with firemen, I'd keep it to myself.

You'll note my plan to photograph actual firemen didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped ...

Monday, 28 April 2014

Writing Fiction

I'm doing the Start Writing Fiction course through Futurelearn. Yes, I know I'd started writing already, but I certainly don't know everything about the subject - and the course is free.

So far I've learned that I'm a bit odd in that I haven't always either been a writer, or known that's what I wanted to do. (The picture is of me more than thirty years before I decided I might give writing stories a try)

I'm also very bad about using a notebook. Apparently I should carry one at all times and scribble in it almost constantly. When I expect to have time to write, I usually take my laptop with me. Even then though I rarely make observational type notes. Instead I get straight on with my next story, or add a bit to the novel.

Are you doing the course? Or any other courses? Do you carry a notebook at all times?

Friday, 25 April 2014

Reporting in.

I've added a bit to the wordcount of Poppyfield Farm (please don't look back and see how similar the previous total was and how long ago I reached it!)

Do you have a big project on the go? How are you getting on with it?

In other news, I've had a story accepted for one of the anthologies I mentioned here. (Holiday stories) That was a nice surprise. I don't know if they're still looking for that type of story, but they do have other calls for submission still open.

Other competitions and publications I've mentioned previously, and which you could still try, include this one, this one and this one, all for short stories. There's also still time to try this one and these people have a competition every month. Actually so do theseThis competition is still open and this one seems to be ongoing.

Is that all were you wondering? Well no it isn't. This one is still open and this and so is this. There's even a poetry one here. Searching under 'free to enter competitions' and 'publication opportunities' on this blog will reveal more.

If you were wondering if they're all free to enter, then yes they are.

Have you entered any of these? Are you going to?

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

You can bank on it

A bank is the sloping edge to a river or lake, a raised area of ground, or an elevation in the sea bed (eg a sand bank.) A bank can also be a garden feature, allowing trailing plants to be shown to advantage.

It can mean a financial establishment or the act of investing in one (all the money I earn from writing has been safely banked*) The bank is the person who holds the money in gambling games and premises (a bit like the previous definition then.) A banker is a person whose work involves money, and also an insult in rhyming slang.
*not really - I've spent it on books, cake ingredients and plants.

It's the way a race track slopes to help cornering at speed or a row of similar items such a bank of light switches. In the UK a bank holiday is a public holiday. A pilot may find himself banking (travelling with one side higher than the other) to help avoid flying through a fog bank.

Bank is used in several common expressions, usually to suggest reliability or good fortune. Getting a story acceptance will leave you laughing all the way to the bank. Getting rejections is something we can all bank on.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Flower Power

Here's a competition to write a poem using the word 'flower'. There's a £25 prize. My attempt is here.

That gives me a good excuse to post another picture from the garden.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Living the dream

If you have a short sci-fi or fantasy story ready, or can write one quickly, then you might like to try this competition. The prize is $200. Only non-professional writers may enter (you'll need to check the rules to see what they call non-professional, as criteria for this varies widely)

How's this for a fantasy writing retreat? I spent a few hours there last week. The fantasy part is in the word 'writing' as I went for a walk and drank wine instead. Maybe I can consider it research? You never know when I might want to write about someone very lazy and easily distracted.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Aaargh me hearties!

To many people a pirate is an attractive scoundrel such as the one played by Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, or they're one legged old codgers with an eye patch and parrot who always stuck to 'the code'. I'm not sure why they've become such considered such fun, romantic and honourable characters when piracy was, and still is, the action of very dangerous criminals. I doubt many of us would like to parlez with a Somalian pirate.

Pirating work is the act of infringing a person's copyright. This can be plagiarism, illegal downloads or reproduction of the work or using a picture you've found on the internet without permission of the person who took it.

Broadcasting without official permission is also known as piracy. I believe pirate radio stations were so named because the early ones broadcast from ships to avoid detection.

Gosh that wasn't very cheerful was it? I can't cheer you up with a picture of Captain Jack Sparrow as I've not taken one, so you'll have to make do with a link and these terrible jokes ...

What are a pirate's favourite pattern for jumpers?



Because they aaaargh!

Where does he buy them?

He doesn't he steals them from Asdaaaaargh! (Or Walmaaaarght! in the U.S.)

Friday, 11 April 2014

Getting catty

If you have a cat, or used to, or know someone who has then you might like to try this competition to write a true cat related story. Thanks to writing friend and cat lover Charlie Britten for telling me about this one.

The prizes are £50 Amazon vouchers and publication in Your Cat magazine.

There were always cats on the farm when I was growing up and some were real characters. There must be a suitable story somewhere in my memory.

Thursday, 10 April 2014


As my travels took me close to the home of Ireland's Own, I thought I'd pop in for a chat.

Sean Nolan was very welcoming and friendly. He let me snoop round the office, sit in the editor's chair and send myself a few acceptances. (One of those isn't true)

Sadly I didn't get to meet Phil Murphy - maybe next time.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


Oddly my dictionary doesn't give either of the definitions I associate with these three letters. To me they stand for Take a Break. I'm not terribly keen on the weekly mag, but TAB's Fiction Feast is great. When writing stories I indent paragraphs using the tab key (then take the indents out again for TAB!)

See where it says 'Top Twist' on the cover of the current issue? That's my story they're talking about!

Non writers probably think of a tab as a drinks bill (oh, OK writers might be familiar with that one too) A a small strip of material used for hanging up clothes is a tab and tabbing is the action of attaching these. A stage curtain can be known as a tab and it might need to be tabbed in order to hang it.

To keep tabs on someone is to keep them under surveillance.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Poetic position

Would you like to be a poet in residence at Jane Austen's house this summer and be paid £10,000 for doing it? That sounds like someone's dream job - not mine but I can see it's a wonderful opportunity for the right candidate.

If you could have any writing or reading related job, even a fictional one, what would it be?

Personally I'd like to keep doing what I'm doing now, but with a few more sales. Or, as we're dreaming here, lots and lots more sales. And do more of the writing on cruise ships.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

On my travels

I'm off on another adventure. On the way I'll be stopping off at Leandra's blog. Other than that, internet access is likely to be patchy, so I'll see you when the fog lifts (as my Grandad used to say)

Here's a competition to keep you busy until I'm back online. The prize is a pittance, but you only have to write one line. Read last years winners for an idea of what they're looking for.

Friday, 4 April 2014

I don't know

What do you think, should I enter this short story competition with the theme of decisions? The top prize is $180 so I just might. (kidding - I know I will)

I'm less sure about this poetry one. For a start it's a poetry competition. Secondly I'm not sure if the age range 17-adult means up to adult or anyone over 17. The prizes are chocolate and book tokens though, which is a fairly irresistible combination. If you can write in Welsh you'll have the added dilemma of which language to use.

I'm definitely going to try this one. I love visiting historic houses so I'll enjoy the research. The prizes are a guided tour of Levens Hall, membership of the Historic Houses Association, afternoon tea (I'm very keen on afternoon tea) and £150.

I don't know - what would be the best possible prize?

Do you recognise this historic building?

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

It was a good try

I was super organised and wrote a post for this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group yesterday morning. Excellent it was, full of heart wrenching angst, worry and insecurity about my long spell without an acceptance. You'd have cried.

Then I got three acceptances. Yes three and yes, I do know what the date was yesterday, but they were sent after midday and are definitely the real thing. I'm now exceedingly bucked up and chipper (no doubt annoyingly so). Posting the whinge just doesn't seem right.

Now I know not everyone will have had such good news and I feel for you if that's the case. I know how rotten it feels. It's temporary though. You'll write other things, send them other places and get a better response. Keep trying - it'll happen.

Oh and the original post? I'm keeping hold of it as I expect it'll be appropriate some other time.